Friday, June 24, 2011

Assateague Assault Sprint Triathlon

I completed the Assateague Assault Triathlon last weekend.

The event starts and ends on the Maryland portion of Assateague Island, which is located in Worcester County.
This is a Sprint Triathlon, which means that it is half the distance of an international level triathlon.

The event was reasonably well organized. It was easy to sign-up online and one could pick up the race packet either the Saturday before or the morning of the race. The packet contained the leg-band with the RFID timing chip, the colored swim cap, and numbers for your shirt, bike, and helmet. You also got a nice t-shirt. Race number body markings were put on the morning of the race by the staff.

The transition area did not have assigned rows and I'm not sure if that was better or worse, but it didn't seem to cause any problems. The entrances and exits for the different events were well placed so as to avoid running into anyone or getting in the way (I mention this because another triathlon I was at years ago only had one exit/entrance and it was impossible to enter or exit the transition area after the race without getting in the way or being yelled out by the staff. I haven't done that event since and likely never will again).

The swim was a half mile in the Atlantic Ocean with a running start from the beach. I was in the first wave and thankfully it wasn't too crowded, so I didn't really have to worry about getting kicked. Getting past the rough water to get to the first buoy, however, was a bit of a challenge. The waves were a bit rough. But once out there it wasn't bad at all. At times the swim was even a bit enjoyable. This was my first ocean triathlon and I wasn't used to swimming out that far from the shore, so I appreciated seeing all of the lifeguards in their kayaks just beyond me. At the last buoy I turned to swim back to shore, where I was again battered by waves.

The bike was fairly uneventful. It was about 14 or so miles. There was one hill, over the bridge, but otherwise the course was very flat. The impact on traffic appeared to be minimum, although police were at at least one intersection helping us to get through faster.

The run was only 5k, or 3.125 miles, but it felt much longer than that. There were people giving out water at the start and at the half-way point, or so, but they probably could have used another water stop. The sun was beating down fairly hard on everyone. The course was very flat, but also sort of boring. We did run through two areas with campers and many of the people there were out cheering us along, which is generally encouraging.

The after-race party was okay. Because it was a Maryland State Park they couldn't serve alcohol, but they had sufficient food and drink available. I really appreciated being handed a bottle of water at the finish.

There are a few suggestions I would make. There was only one bathroom, a park bathroom which wasn't too big, and there were lines in it. Portable toilets in the transition area are always nice. Most athletes consume a good amount of caffeine and water (not to mention the water that you swallow after a wave slams you in the race). Also, it would have been nice to get a small finishers metal or some other object that I could nail to my wall to show off to my colleagues. Another water stop on the run and perhaps one on the bike would have been good. At some races the water stops have Gu or PowerBar Energy Gel for the taking which is helpful. And some beer at the end would be nice as well, if they could get the proper waivers from the State.

But, on the whole, I really enjoyed the race. The people were great and the event was both challenging and fun. I recommend it and encourage others to sign-up for next year's race.